Close to 100,000 people attended over the five days of last week’s Qatar Goodwood Festival – and the atmosphere showed just how much racegoers had been missed.
Last year not one paying punter could be admitted the whole week – with plans for a 5,000 crowd on the last day being scrapped by the government at the 11th hour. This year the festival fell a week after many of England’s last lockdown restrictions were lifted – and Goodwood was truly Glorious again.
Racecourse director Jon Barnett said: “We were delighted to have been the first major racing festival to welcome back full capacity crowds.
“The atmosphere on course was fabulous throughout with a real buzz, particularly on Friday and Saturday, when crowd levels were as good as we can remember.
“The weather was largely unsettled, but the racing stories and true Glorious Goodwood experience shone through. Attendance for the week reached 2019 levels, which was a fantastic year for us, with sales of food and drink far higher than we would normally have anticipated as racegoers celebrated a return.”
Adam Waterworth, managing director of sport at Goodwood, said the return of crowds would be the factor the 2021 festival was remembered for.
“For me there were a couple of times that having the crowds back really felt special,” he told the Observer. “One was when Lady Bowthorpe won the Nassau Stakes on Ladies’ Day – that was wonderful – and the other was when Battaash, our four-time King George Stakes winner, was applauded as he went down to the start on Friday.”
Waterworth said feedback from people who’d attended had been positive. “I’ve not heard from anyone who came and felt uncomfortable.
“Right up to the last day, there was still the potential for us to be prevented from welcoming full-size crowds. It’s a great testament to staff and racegoers that we were able to stage a ‘normal’ week when as recently as April, we were still racing behind closed doors.”
Next up at Goodwood is the three-day bank holiday meeting (August 27-29), which features the Celebration Mile and a Carl Cox DJ set.